Campbell County approves accessory dwelling units in two county zones

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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The Campbell County Planning and Zoning Commission approved zoning amendments to allow accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, in certain county zones.  

ADUs are separate dwelling units on the same lot as a stand-alone detached single-family home. Zoning requirements previously only “narrowly” allowed the units. The changes made at Tuesday night’s meeting allow the units in Residential-Rural Estate and Agricultural-One Zones, which are the county’s largest lot-sized zones. 

According to Campbell County Planning and Zoning Principal Planner Kirk Hunter, ADUs are becoming more popular across the country as families seek a separate space for their adult children, aging relatives, etc. Hunter also said the change was brought before the commission because of increased demand from the community for the units, including Fort Thomas resident Frank Twehues, who spoke during the meeting. 

“My family approached Campbell County probably six months ago with the request,” Twehues said. “I have an aging mother. She has a parcel of property on Eight Mile that the way it was divided over the years does not allow for additional divisions.”

Twehues said his mother loves her property, so he and his siblings brainstormed the best solution to keep her there without adding an addition to the house, and an ADU was the “ideal solution.”

He said this is a long-term investment, and he and his wife have considered how they would repurpose the unit when the time comes—something that was brought up as a concern during the meeting. Part of the conditional uses to acquire a permit include that the unit may not be held out to the public for short or long-term rentals.

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“I would think that a lot of people who are going to make this kind of thoughts and investments for their family would be thinking long term, not just in the short term as well,” he said.

Those interested in an ADU must acquire a conditional use permit, enforced on a case-by-case basis with a public hearing with the board of adjustments. 

The conditional uses include:

  • The principal use on the lot shall be a detached single-family dwelling.
  • The ADU shall be subordinate in area, extent, and purpose to the principal building served.
  • No more than one ADU may be located on a lot.
  • The unit shall be located on the same lot as the principal building served.
  • The unit shall not be deeded separately from the principal building.
  • The total area of floorspace of the ADU shall not exceed 50% of the existing primary dwelling area or 1,200 square feet.
  • Parking requirements for ADUs may be imposed by the board of adjustments to ensure no undue burden is placed on the neighborhood.
  • The unit shall not be used for a home-based business.
  • The unit may not be held out to the public for short or long-term rentals.
  • The unit shall not be placed on separate utility services unless permitted by the board of adjustments. 

California, Ky. resident Mike Listermann also spoke at the meeting and said he thinks there is a lot of need for the units but shared concerns about the units becoming multi-family. 

“I think most of the people that live out in the area where I do feel the same way,” Listermann said. “Certainly, want to help a child or an uncle or a mom or dad but definitely don’t want it to become an apartment—multi-family one after the other. So as long as we keep that in consideration, I think that’s the most important.”

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The planning commission discussed and tweaked the conditional uses to deter the units from being rented as an apartment. They also said the added layer of an ADU being approved by the board of adjustments would help to enforce that. 

If someone’s unit is in violation, they could lose their conditional use permit. The county does not seek out violations; they must be reported, and then they will be investigated. 

The board did not unanimously pass the item. Commissioner Sharon Haynes said she felt they were rushing the adjustments and voted no. 

Commissioner Justin Verst, who voted to approve the changes, said that if a repeated issue keeps popping up at the board of adjustment meetings, items can return to the planning commission to be reworked. 

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